Multinational Strategic Airlift Consortium completes first flight in support of ISAF

PAPA AIR BASE, Hungary — Airmen representing the U.S. and 11 partnering nations take part in the activation ceremony of a first-of-its-kind multinational Heavy Airlift Wing here. The ceremony celebrated the efforts of the 12 nations who, over the last 10 months, stood up the organization that will provide strategic airlift worldwide for humanitarian, disaster relief, and peacekeeping missions in support of the European Union, United Nations and NATO. (Department of Defense photo/ Master Sgt. Scott Wagers)

PAPA AIR BASE, Hungary — The Strategic Airlift Consortium (SAC) conducted its first mission in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Sept. 28. The first ISAF-related flight by SAC's operational component, the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) based in Papa Airbase in Hungary, delivered materiel to Mazar-e Sharif, to supply Swedish troops in the Afghan theatre.

The HAW has already flown several operational missions, including flights to support KFOR troops in Kosovo, but the first trip to Afghanistan was an important milestone for the SAC program, which was launched three years ago in order to acquire three C-17 aircraft, to meet strategic airlift requirements of the 10 participating member nations.

"The first mission to Afghanistan is a big step forward for the efforts of the SAC nations, including both NATO and EU members, to address a critical shortfall in strategic lift," said Peter Flory, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment.

"This is what it's all about, conducting missions for our member nations. It is a team effort and I am very proud of the close cooperation among the 12 nations within Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) and NATO Airlift Management Agency (NAMA)," said Swedish Air Force Col. Fredrik Heden, HAW Vice Wing Commander.

Launched in September 2006, the SAC initiative is a groundbreaking example of multinational cooperation in rapidly developing critical capabilities for the Alliance and other SAC members. The aircraft meet the strategic airlift requirements of the SAC member nations for national missions, including missions in support of NATO, the EU and the UN.

The first SAC C-17 Globemaster III (SAC-1) was delivered to Papa Airbase July 27, 2009; SAC-2 arrived in Papa Sept. 21, 2009. The third SAC aircraft, which is scheduled to be delivered in October 2009, will complete the projected SAC C-17 fleet.

The SAC currently comprises 10 NATO and two Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland (PfP), Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden (PfP), Romania and the United States.

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A Hungarian Special Forces Medic, right, directs the evacuation of a simulated casualty to safety to his Romanian SOF medic counterpart during the Field Training Exercise as part of the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course held in Udbina, Croatia. 
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A US Airman waits to offload the final pallets from the cargo aircraft which arrived in Russia from Sigonella delivering firefighting equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Keith Houin provided in real time via smartphone/RELEASED)

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